Milton Friedman (born July 31, 1912) won The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel in 1976. His book Free to Choose, written with his wife Rose, became a ten-part television series on PBS in early 1980. His son David Friedman has carried on his tradition of explaining the principles of the free market.
Born in New York, he obtained a Bachelor's degree from Rutgers University, his Master's degree from the University of Chicago, and his PhD from Columbia University. He then worked for Columbia University and for the federal government, and became Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. There he carried forward the intellectual tradition of the Chicago school of economics. Friedman is currently affiliated with the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Friedman can be classified as a monetarist, and is often seen as the leading proponent of this economic school. He maintains that there is a close and stable link between inflation and the money supply, rejects the use of fiscal policy as a tool of demand management and holds that the government's role in the management of the economy should be severely restricted. He argued for the cessation of intervention in exchange markets thereby spawning an enormous literature as well as the practice of freely floating exchange rates.
He has supported various libertarian policies such as decriminalization of drugs and prostitution. He also supported the move towards a paid/volunteer armed forces and the abolition of the draft that took place in the 1970s in the U.S.
Friedman visited Chile in 1975 during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Invited by a private party, he gave lectures on economics. Several professors from the University of Chicago school became advisors to the Chilean government and several PhD graduates -- known as "the Chicago boys" served in Chilean ministries. He was heavily criticized and accused of supporting a regime whose policies included torture and murder of political opponents; some demonstrations took place at the 1976 Nobel Prize ceremony. (See: Miracle of Chile)
Friedman defends himself by maintaining that the move towards open market policies by the dictatorship was laudable, and pointing out that he gave the very same lectures also in communist countries. Critics pointed out that Chile, unlike those communist countries, were in fact using their brutal dictatorship to implement the economic policies, thus contradicting the relationship that he claimed existed between open markets and political freedom.